Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mangoes and Cassowaries on the Ella Bay Road Part 2 - More food for thought!

The whole issue of cassowaries accessing food resources along the Ella Bay Road has been on my mind a fair bit lately after witnessing their attraction to the Mango trees that line the edges of the Ella Bay Road.
I am extremely concerned that property developer Ella Bay Pty Ltd plans to fence/widen this road potentially isolating or removing valuable cassowary food trees. That this is being proposed within and adjacent to a World Heritage National Park amplifies these concerns.

At Ella Bay endangered southern cassowaries have accessed roadside mangoes as a seasonal food resource for decades. Further to this the white apples Syzygium forte that grow along the eastern (coastal) side of the road have been accessed by cassowaries for countless centuries. To knowingly restrict the free access of a federally listed endangered species to a seasonal food resource is not only ecologically unsound but in my opinion morally and legally reprehensible.

Before I continue I would like to suggest you check out my earlier story Mangoes and Cassowaries on the Ella Bay Road - food for thought! as it is of course the first part of this story.
I did omit to include some evidence of cassowary use of this road to access food plants as I was not happy with the quality of my photographs.

My mango scat shots were fine and cassowary scat full of mango seed is a sure sign that mangoes are a seasonal food source for Ella Bay cassowaries.
However as I said earlier my cassowary photos were terrible!
The good news is that I now have some decent photos of cassowaries along the Ella Bay Road thanks to being delayed by a conversation with a stranger!…Let me explain!

About 5 days ago I visited Ella Bay and was checking out a favourite large mango tree on the Ella Bay Road.
This tree drops hundreds of mangoes on the Ella Bay Road during the fruiting season. These mangoes are eagerly consumed by Ella Bay’s endangered southern cassowaries.
This mango tree is approximately 300 metres from the front gate of the proposed Ella Bay property development.

Before I returned to my vehicle I met a fascinating visitor named John, an IT expert who has visited the Ella Bay area for annual family holidays for over 15 years. Here is a photo of John standing by the huge mango tree!
Please note I have thrown mangoes off the road earlier to deter cassowaries from loitering on the road!

Anyway we talked and talked and after almost an hour I saw a head pop out of the roadside vegetation and check us out so I snapped a quick insurance shot through my cars windscreen!
John very politely offered to hang back whilst I walked around my car and took some more photos of our hungry visitor.
I would like to acknowledge John for allowing me first dibs at getting these photos and if you’re reading this John, thanks mate!

Here's a photo which explains where the cassowary appeared in relation to the mango tree
Oh and before I forget I even took a short video of our hungry visitor and here it is on you tube!

Sorry it was a bit shaky but in my morning rush I forgot my early morning coffee!

Well John and I said goodbye and good luck and I moved my car so the cassowary could have breakfast and then I continued my beach walk.

Right next to the earthworks/turf at Ella Bay I disturbed a sub adult cassowary on the eastern coastal side of the Ella Bay Road and it bolted across the track in front of me. In a flash I had my camera out and took one quick snap shot and my heart was in my mouth as second later as I checked to see if I had been successful.

Thankyou Panasonic I mumbled as I saw I had a photo of the scruffy but fast sub adult and here it is.
What’s that you can’t see it?
Is that better?Ok this should help!

All joking aside it was very exciting seeing a juvenile cassowary on the proponent’s property as it tells me that this is a dynamic breeding population that is recruiting new members.

The poor cassowary would have probably bolted out of fear that I was a larger cassowary coming to assert my territorial dominance. Adolescence can be the toughest of times for a cassowary as they are at the bottom of the pecking order and older dominant birds aren’t shy of reminding them of that fact!

I’m sure there will be a lot more cassowary activity along the Ella Bay road as the massive white apple trees Syzygium forte that grow along the beach are getting bigger and hundreds if not thousands of kilos of these fruits will be falling soon. Cassowaries will be crossing the Ella Bay Road again to access this fruity feast as they have done for decades.

Ella Bay Pty Ltd wish to place approximately 5000 people in this bay with the Ella Bay Road as their only access in and out. Hopefully Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett AM MP will prevent this quiet bush track from becoming a major road. Minister Garrett only has to look a little further south at Mission Beach to be reminded of what a nightmare this sort of road cutting through essential cassowary habitat can become.

Cheers Russ


  1. Great work getting shots of the cassowary. It's bird I've always wanted to see.

    Thumbs down to the developers!

  2. Thanks Mosura, I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time although this road is used extensively by Ella Bay's cassowaries. For such large birds they move through the forest like ghosts. I second that thumbs down!

  3. Thanks Blanche. You did pretty good yourself getting a meeting with Minister Garrett AM MP. A good day for Marine Wildlife Australia I bet!


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